01/03/2007

New Orleans police officers surrender on murder charges

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Seven police officers charged in a deadly bridge shooting in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath waded through a roaring crowd of supporters on their way to jail, accepting hand shakes and hugs along the way. Jeers from several protesters only made the cheers grow louder.

Six of the men remained behind bars Tuesday night, charged with at least one count of murder or attempted murder in the Sept. 4, 2005, shootings on the Danziger Bridge less than a week after the hurricane hit. Two people died and four people were wounded.

Defense attorneys say the seven officers are innocent of the charges.

Sgts. Kenneth Bowen and Robert Gisevius Jr., officer Anthony Villavaso II and former officer Robert Faulcon Jr., were indicted last week on first-degree murder charges. Officers Robert Barrios and Mike Hunter Jr. were charged with attempted first-degree murder, and Officer Ignatius Hills was charged with attempted second-degree murder.

A judge said there would be no bail for the four accused of first-degree murder. Bail will be $100,000 per count for the other three officers.

A first-degree murder conviction carries a possible death sentence. A spokesman for District Attorney Eddie Jordan said Tuesday that prosecutors haven't decided yet whether to seek the death penalty in the case.

The coroner said Madison was shot seven times, with five wounds in the back, but the officers' attorneys said all the wounds could have come from a single shotgun blast.

Madison's brother, Lance, denies he or his brother was armed.

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